Cloak and Dagger 1x01/1x02 "First Light"/"Suicide Sprints"
It seems like Marvel is taking over the world, doesn’t it? As of June 7th, the massive company now has a property airing on six television and streaming networks and releases a new movie on the silver screen at a rate of about one film every three months. Some people would say we’re reaching a point of oversaturation and I say: “They don’t know what they’re talking about!” Today, I’m here to talk about Marvel’s latest TV venture, Cloak and Dagger, and why it’s a perfect show for the moment.
“First Light” is the premiere episode and I was pulled in from the beginning. The pre-title sequence dives (pardon the pun) right into the “how” of the main characters getting their powers. Both living in New Orleans, young Tandy Bowen and Tyrone Johnson are on different tracks in their lives: Tyrone (wearing his older brother’s black hoodie) is seen stealing a radio from a car — a customer who shorted his older brother and his friends on the labor costs — as Tandy participates in a ballet class in a posh-looking dance studio.
Events appear to unfold simultaneously after Tandy’s dance class ends and we’re see her — a solitary child — dancing in the rain as she waits for her mother to pick her up. Tandy’s mother never arrives, but her father does and it’s clear Tandy adores him. As they begin the drive home, we see Tyrone’s older brother (Billy) arrive to the (literal) scene of the crime and when he realizes what Tyrone has done, wants to take the radio back. Unfortunately for both Tandy and Tyrone, this night isn’t going to end well.
The police catch Tyrone and Billy on their way to return the radio and, because they are young and black, they run. As they begin their wild dash, we are pushed back to Tandy and her father, who has gotten a phone call; things don’t seem great at work. Unfortunately, it’s a rainy night and his attention isn’t on the road. As his car slips into the next lane, we see Tyrone and Billy wind up at a loading dock. With nowhere else to go, Billy comes out raising his hands (a haunting image) and cops mistake the radio in his hands for a weapon. Billy is shot, and Tyrone makes a mad dash for his brother as he drops into the water below, just as Tandy’s father veers to avoid an oncoming truck and hydroplanes — forced into the water as a factory nearby explodes.
Tandy — trapped with her dead father and the truck’s weight (having followed them into the water) on top of the car — and Tyrone are both under the water when a blast of energy from the Roxxon Factory (featured in Daredevil, Agents of Shield and Iron Man for a bit of continuity) makes its way through the water, affecting them both immediately. It’s this energy blast that gives them the powers that ultimately allow Tyrone to reach Tandy through the car and get them both to the safety of the beach, and that is the kick off of Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger! It’s a wild ride in its opening minutes, that’s for sure.
When next we see the pair, they’re living completely different lives. Set in New Orleans (unlike the comic’s New York roots) Tyrone (newcomer Aubrey Johnson) is a basketball star at his expensive looking prep school while Tandy is living in semi-homelessness and stealing from smarmy rich kids to get by.
Tandy has spent her life running from her problems (this is why she doesn’t live at home with her not-really-there mother who also has a bit of a drug habit) and, although he seems like he’s doing well on the surface, Tyrone has a boatload of anger and guilt sitting inside of him years later, and it begins to boil out of him in this premiere episode — at a basketball game, he reacts violently when he is pushed by an opposing player and nobody is pleased with his actions. Although it seems like their lives are on completely different paths, they somehow manage to meet up at a party that Tandy’s boyfriend knows about, one that Tyrone receives an invite to courtesy of Evita, a friends from school.
Tandy sees the party, not as a chance to relax, but as an opportunity to steal from a few more rich kids, but she picks the wrong pocket when she steals Tyrone’s wallet. As soon as he realizes that his wallet is gone, he pins Tandy trying to work another con and gives chase. As he reaches her, he makes a grab for her hand and their dormant connection explodes, forcing them away from one another in a blast of energy. When they come to (only a few seconds later) it’s to see their hands glowing (or in Tyrone’s case covered in shadow). This connection is all it takes to spark Tandy’s memory of the boy on the beach and — instead of staying she takes off, because that’s who Tandy is, leaving Tyrone to wonder what the hell just happened.
Tandy tries to make the night disappear, using stolen tickets to attend a ballet, but her victim (and a few friends) corner her in an alley. Tandy’s unlocked powers save her when — probably because of her fear — a dagger of light appears in her hand. She stabs him and manages to run away, heading back to the church she lives in, where we discover that Tandy took Billy’s hoodie from Tyrone on that fateful day and has picked up a prescription drug habit from her mother.
As their stories are parallels, Tyrone also runs into an enemy from the past — the cop who murdered his brother and got away with it — and the rage he’s been bottling up explodes into aggression. He and the cop (Connors) get into a fight, which almost results in Tyrone being shot, but ends abruptly when Tyrone, after collapsing into a pile of black tarps, finds himself back in his room. And so, a new superhero duo come to the forefront.
I do want to note that the location of the series isn’t the only thing that’s changed this go-round. In the comics, Tandy is the wealthier of the two, while Tyrone (having run away after his brother’s murder) is trying to pickpocket her on the street. The two inadvertently become friends when Tyrone saves Tandy from someone else who wanted to steal from her, but it’s clear that the series is taking it’s time building the relationship between them which helps it seem more organic, perhaps, than its comic counterpart. This way also allows Freeform to play around a bit more with the social justice angles it’s working into each episode thus far.
Props to Freeform for not shying from the relevant issues, instead embracing and highlighting the struggles of its core audience with shows like Grown-ish, The Bold Type and now, Cloak and Dagger. It’s very interesting to see what demographics mean in this show, as they show us what different types of privilege (race, gender, class) mean when it comes to who can do what and get away with it. Unlike basically every other superhero show on the market, it’s clear Cloak and Dagger will be a slow-burn when it comes to revealing what we need to know about our main characters, and I’m just fine with that. From all evidence it’s going to be an enjoyable journey.
As Cloak and Dagger’s premiere was a 2-hour extravaganza, it only makes sense that Episode 2, entitled “Suicide Sprints”, felt like a seamless pickup from “First Light”. This episode introduces us to two new, possibly major characters: Father Delgado (a priest at Tyrone’s school) and Detective Brigid O'Reilly. Father Delgado’s tattoos are an interesting juxtaposition to his choice of livelihood, while Detective O'Reilly's tenacious hunt for the perpetrator of a mysterious stabbing the night before leads her in a direction she probably wasn’t expecting.
As Tyrone deals with the conflicts he’s facing internally, he turns to his father for advice and is told to model himself after his mother, who held the family together after Billy’s untimely death. Unfortunately, it seems as if Adina (Tyrone’s mother) might be in a bit of trouble herself. She’s on the phone during the breakfast advice session and she name drops a familiar company: Roxxon. Later on, she notices that the garbage has been tipped over, its contents spilled out, and while she initially believes it to be an animal, when it happens again later in that very episode, she’s clearly spooked.
It doesn’t help my suspicions that Roxxon has already gone out of its way to besmirch another parent in this season: Tandy’s father, who was posthumously destroyed after the factory explosion. Thus far we’ve only heard about the company in passing across several Marvel shows (and in Iron Man). Agent Carter has gone farther than most shows did in its exploration, but its untimely cancellation prevented us from learning more. Perhaps we’ll finally get an all-out exposure of the shadowy group thanks to Cloak and Dagger.
Tyrone’s conversation with his father doesn’t appear to help much, so he turns to Father Delgado at school, searching for answers in religion when he found none at home. Father Delgado advises him that his built-up anger will only bring more pain. Tyrone explains to Delgado that he wants to get revenge and, when the Father tells him to look to God for answers, Tyrone wonders if that’s not what God intends for him to do.
It’s clear that Tyrone feels a pull to the darkness and it might be a bit of a struggle for him to stay away from it. Even as Father Delgado advises Tyrone to avoid seeking vengeance, Tyrone sneaks out of school to lay in wait for Office Connors (his brother’s murderer), and unfortunately falls asleep due to his late night run in with Connors and winds up late to basketball practice.
His teammates, already frustrated with his performance at their last game, are none too happy when Tyrone shows up ready to practice as they’ve been forced to run suicide sprints instead of actually practicing due to his absence. It probably doesn’t help their anger that Tyrone is benched, unable to participate in the sprints with the rest of the team.
When practice is over and he decides to practice on his own, doing the same sprints his team was forced to do earlier, his teammates don’t seem to care about his efforts and corner him in the locker room, assaulting him and then shoving him into a cage and locking it behind them. Tyrone has a fleeting hope that he might be able to escape using his powers, but he hasn’t yet found their trigger and winds up breaking out using a baseball bat locked in the cage with him.
While Tyrone is struggling at school, Tandy is struggling in life. I don’t know if she goes to school (it doesn’t seem like it) but right now that’s the least of her problems. Tandy doesn’t know whether or not she killed the man she stabbed last night, and she’s hoping to skip town before any repercussions come her way. When she goes back to her mother’s home to pull out her funds (in an effort to buy a fake ID and set up a life elsewhere) she discovers that her mother has taken it all and used it — likely buying more drugs. Not only that, but she’s got a new boyfriend — an attorney who is supposed to be helping her sue Roxxon for their role in her husband’s destruction.
Tandy leaves in disgust and, in a panic, she hatches a plan with her boyfriend Liam. They’re going to rob a wedding. At the wedding we see Tandy’s skills in action as she scopes out the wedding, latches on to the biggest target (a birdcage full of wedding cards) and finds a way to not only steal that but the money the maid of honor was supposed to pay the vendors with. That’s not the only treat Tandy receives at the wedding though; while dancing with Liam she is treated to an unexpected vision of herself and Liam at their own wedding.
It’s our first glimpse into Dagger’s second power: the ability to see other people’s hopes. I find it extraordinary that a girl who trusts no one and has had little to no hope for years, who always expects the worst and runs from every commitment, has the ability to divine hope in others. But it’s seeing Liam’s hope for a future with her that ultimately forces her to push him away. The pair steal the wedding send-off car and Tandy tells him then that there’s no hope for them.
After dropping him off, she’s on her way out of New Orleans, wedding cans trailing behind her, when she gets a call from Liam: he’s been arrested and he needs her to bail him out. It costs her, but Tandy decides to turn around and return to New Orleans.
While Tandy is fleeing town, Tyrone finally has time to talk with his mother, taking his father’s advice and trying to smooth things over between them. After their talk, which helps both of them understand each other a bit more, Tyrone gives his mother a hug, and his powers — mirror to Tandy’s — are on display as well. Unlike Dagger, who dwells in the light, Tyrone’s abilities allow him to dig into people’s fears, and his mother’s (that she will lose Tyrone just as she lost Billy) send Tyrone right back into a place of anger. It’s those fears that prompt him to take the gun from his home and — having discovered where Officer Connors lived earlier on — confront him. Tyrone is intent on killing the man but as he’s pulling the trigger, his powers save both him and Connors, transporting him onto the same street that Tandy is driving along.
Although I was glad to see the pair reunited, I don’t think they’re going to be too happy with one another, as Tyrone’s bullet pierces the windshield and Tandy, in an attempt to avoid crashing into him, crashes into a tree instead. So far, I’ve loved how, even separated, Tandy and Tyrone are on parallel journeys. I am very excited to see how they interact with one another, now that they’ve been reunited. How are they going to deal with the obvious pull they both have towards each other? No matter how hard they run, they both keep finding their way back to the other.
Cloak and Dagger airs Thursdays at 9/8c on Freeform.